Episode 221: Exorcism: Demons or Delusion?

In this episode of The Sofa King Podcast, we discuss the phenomenon of demonic possession and exorcism. Demonic or spiritual possession is something that most people associate with Catholicism, but it spreads to any number of religious faiths, Hindu to Islamic and Judaism. In most faiths, the belief is that the evil that possesses the victim is expelled by a person of faith who calls upon the will of god or angels. Surprisingly, the cases of exorcism are growing rapidly around the world, and in the U.S. While in the 1980s, there was one expert exorcist in America, there are now fifty! So, what are the signs of possession, and how do exorcisms work to alleviate them?

The major signs of possession are unnatural strength, speaking of languages a person has no history of learning, and knowing things that a person can’t possibly know (often personal things about the priest or exorcist). Of course, more wild things are attributed to possession such as levitation and telekinetic or poltergeist activity, things flying from the shelves, and even burning of the skin when coming in contact with holy items.

The Vatican takes possession and exorcism quite seriously. In the Ritulae Romanum, section XIII deals specifically with the rites of the exorcist and how to identify those who are truly possessed (instead of mentally ill). However, the section is top secret, only known to those who go to Rome to learn the proper techniques. A debate obviously rages about the difference between possession and mental illness. Some experts claim that while thousands of cases in a row will be mental illness, there will be one or two in those thousands that are true possession.

What exactly does the rites of exorcism involve, and has Hollywood been accurate in depictions of it? What does the psychologist who is called in by priests to determine the mental health of self-proposed possessed people think? Who was Anneliese Michel, and how could her death have involved exorcism? What parts of the world see more possession and exorcism than others? Is there any truth to the classic 1973 film The Exorcist? How did the devil get Michael Taylor to kill his wife and poodle? Listen, laugh, learn.

 

Philippines Exorcism:

http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/philippines_exorcism

 

Ritulae Romanum:

http://www.sanctamissa.org/en/resources/books-1962/rituale-romanum/

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